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Monday, 25 May 2009
Page: 4084

Mr MURPHY (3:53 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister advise the House concerning reports that North Korea has conducted an underground nuclear explosion?

Mr STEPHEN SMITH (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —I thank the member for Lowe for his question. I am sure members will recall that in October 2006 North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosion, which was subsequently verified by international agencies. That followed on a few months after a launch of a missile by North Korea, albeit with limited success. Members would also recall that last month North Korea also tested a missile, which was considerably more successful. Today the North Korean official state news agency has claimed that North Korea has conducted a successful underground nuclear test. The claim of a test itself is a very provocative act and the claim of a test itself is worthy of nothing other than the condemnation of Australia, which it gets, and the condemnation of the international community.

Australia condemned North Korea’s missile launch last month and that condemnation was appropriately joined by the United Nations Security Council and others in our region and internationally. Very regrettably, I have to advise the House that the initial evidence is that North Korea has in fact conducted an underground nuclear explosion. Whilst it will take a couple of days to formally verify that through atmospheric tests, it appears from the early advice and scientific analysis that an underground nuclear explosion occurred in North Korea at 9.54 am local Korean time today or 10.54 am Australian Eastern Standard Time. Seismic activity in the order of a 4.5 Richter scale seismic event was picked up by Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation monitoring stations throughout the region, including in Australia. That data was transmitted by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation monitoring system to Vienna and from Vienna has been relayed to other national and international agencies, including our own Geoscience Australia.

As I indicated to the House, it will take a couple of days to confirm absolutely from atmospheric tests that this is indeed a nuclear underground explosion. Australia for the moment is proceeding on the basis that North Korea has conducted an underground nuclear explosion. On that basis, North Korea is in flagrant breach of its international obligations, is in flagrant breach of United Nations Security Council resolution 1718, and, as such, stands condemned.

Australia will conduct itself in the same manner it did after the missile launch by North Korea last month. We will immediately consult with our allies and our partners in the region, the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan, and with their assistance take this matter to the Security Council. On the basis that North Korea has conducted a nuclear underground explosion, it deserves and gets nothing other than our absolute condemnation, and that condemnation should be echoed around our region and the globe. There is only one option for North Korea: it should immediately desist from all of these provocative acts; it should immediately comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions—in particular, resolution 1718; and it should immediately resume the six-party talks.